Artist Fay Ballard is leading a weekly creative workshop with dialysis patients at Hammersmith Hospital. She is writing a weekly blog in response to her experiences.
‘I want to draw Tom and Jerry and Donald Duck!’ Laughing with excitement and bursting with energy, Concerttina swiftly drew a small animated figure wearing a pointed hat. ‘It’s Zorrow who celebrates Halloween with us in Italy!’
Next, she tried to remember Donald Duck: his beak, yellow body and big eyes. Then Tom: ‘What does he look like?’ Trying to conjure up an image, she began with large cat ears and coloured his face red. We giggled at the thought of Jerry, a tiny grey mouse with a curly tail, her cheeky drawing worthy of Edward Lear.
Memories of home in southern Italy flooded her mind. A lemon tree, a lemon and a palm tree followed. And what a lemon. I could smell its tangy citrus zest. Despondent, she reflected: ‘I’m no good at art, I have no skill’. ‘Concerttina, on the contrary, you are very good! Your work is full of life, of personality, full of you!’
Had Concerttina seen her Pinocchio drawing framed and hanging in the entrance area? Flummoxed, the question took the wind out of her sails: ‘Framed? Pinocchio framed and hanging?’ Her face lit up and within seconds, a colourful parrot drawing appeared on the page.
Deborah had arrived mid-morning from another hospital and was sleepy and weak. I gave her a packet of Trebor Extra Strong Mints which she’d be pining for last week. Delighted, she popped one in her mouth. Would she like me to read her a short story, and I began ‘The Lady with the Toy Dog’ by Anton Chekhov. As we progressed, Deborah became increasingly unwell and I left her to sleep soundly.
I showed Akos the collage made from her Sudoku puzzles and she offered three more completed ones to add to the composition, laughing at the collage before her eyes.
Cheryl woke from her deep sleep but felt too weak to paint, so we talked before I went to find Irving. He, too, wasn’t feeling on usual form and we chatted. The clock was approaching lunchtime and Phoebe came to say goodbye. She had been drawing Michael today and showed me her fine portrait. ‘I’ll be back next week to find some more sitters’, she beamed.